“What do you see when you look at me? If I were to walk into your Sunday morning service, what would you see? Would you focus on the tattoos? The fact I am not in my Sunday best? Or the sports team on my baseball cap?”
Today meet my guest blogger, and dear friend Heather Whitehead. You may have seen her in my Contagious Courage interviews talking about her cancer diagnoses in 2020, and how it was not what she wanted, but that journey, and how God worked in her life, was exactly what she needed.
However, Heather’s story is about so much more than being a cancer survivor. Which is why I’ve invited Heather back today, to both encourage and challenge us with even more of her incredible story of courage, to help us look past what we see, and ask yourself what does God see?
WHAT YOU DON'T SEE WHEN YOU LOOK AT HEATHER WHITEHEAD?
Heather acknowledges she has had a very traumatic childhood. She said, “My dad was never home, working all the time. Mom was depressed and took it out on the kids. She would insult my sister saying she was fat. So I starved myself, became anorexic. And then there was the mental abuse once I was a teenager… “You’ll never be good enough.” “You’ll never amount to anything.” Words over and over leave permanent scars. It’s easy now for me to talk about the abuse, but what I have a more difficult time with, is the embarrassment and shame from being neglected.
I had to teach myself how to do even the most basic of stuff… bathing… cooking… etc. And because I didn’t have the newest clothes or because of the neglect, I got bullied in school. Only it didn’t really stop there.
Let me take you back. I was 17/18 years old, going to two different youth groups and in between that, I was going to YFC (Youth For Christ). I immersed myself in church life, because the alternative was drugs… suicide… It should have been a safe place. A place where I was welcomed in with open arms and shown God’s love. But the reality was quite different.”
Back 20 years ago when I went to church, it seemed like you were supposed to act a certain way and look the part. How dare you wear jeans to church? Or have tattoos? Now I might have been a bit of a rebel, but I hated dressing up. Still do. But, in my mind if you couldn’t accept me for who I am, that’s too bad. You develop a tough shell when you’re in the midst of that kind of storm.”
HOW OTHERS SEE ME
- Cancer survivor
But I say to myself, those people didn’t see me when I was sick and couldn’t get out of bed, or struggling with the effects of the trauma of my past. If only they could see what I see.
HOW I SEE MYSELF
- You don’t matter.
- You’re a failure.
- You’ll never amount to anything.
- You can’t do anything right.
HOW I SEE OTHERS?
- Brother, sister, mother, father
- Boss, co-worker
How I see myself and how others see me, is so much different than how I see others, but more importantly how God sees me and others is truly what matters. Because what we often see or focus on are all are just labels and distorted thinking. We see things through a lens of our own experiences and worldview. But today, I hope what I share will help you see what God sees more clearly.
WHAT DOES GOD SEE WHEN HE LOOKS AT US?
New creation – 2 Corinthians 5:17
Chosen – Ephesians 1:11
Warriors – Judges 6:11-12
Son, Daughter – Galatians 3:26-28
You see God sees us not as we are, or who we think we are, or who we are not, but what we could be. Like in Judges 6:11-12, when the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon when he was fearful of the army who would attack and defeat them year after year, he said, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.” Yes Gideon was hiding from the Midianites and yet God didn’t call him a coward, no He called him a Mighty warrior
HOW WE SHOULD SEE OTHERS?
When we see people as God sees them we can follow the instructions the Lord gave Samuel in I Samuel 6:7 when He said, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The LORD doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”
THE CHALLENGE FOR US TODAY IS SIMPLE YET CHALLENGING!
Look past the physical appearance and our own biases. See others how God sees them – as a child of God, worthy of love.
YOU SAY - LAUREN DAIGLE
This is the short version of Heather’s story, and there is just so much more that you would benefit from getting to know Heather. So if you have questions or want to reach out with a word of encouragement or maybe want her to speak, she would love to hear from you.
As result of all that Heather has GRWON through, I believe she has a powerful message that needs to be shared. Thank you Heather for being willing to transparently share what YOU SEE, so others can be challenged to see others as GOD SEES them. “A CHILD OF GOD WORTHY OF LOVE.”
CONNECT WITH HEATHER
To find out more about how you can find joy in the journey and have CONTAGIOUS COURAGE, I have a few resources to help you start living more courageously!
JOIN THE COURAGEOUS GIVING COMMUNITY TODAY!
- Pray – for me and the Going Farther team as we continue to grow, and spread the message of hope and courage.
- GIVE – If you wish to help Going Farther continue spreading the message of hope and courage, please consider a one-time donation or by becoming a monthly supporter.
SHARE – Invite or refer me to speak at an upcoming conference/retreat or community event. Via zoom.
If my videos have encouraged you, I’ll also invite you to share with your friends, and help me with spreading the message of hope and courage.
TOGETHER – We can GO FARTHER!
Thank you for supporting me and the Going Farther mission. Now to Him who is able to do WAY MORE than we could ever HOPE or imagine, take care and God bless!